Art of the Unexpected
When hanging art it’s easy to follow set rules, to give each piece enough space and to match the colour of the frame with your coffee table. In fact it’s so easy that sometimes we forget that putting art on our wall isn’t actually just about displaying the work of an artist, it’s also about our own expression. It shares a little bit of our personality and tells a little of our story.
The thought of explaining all the options for displaying a piece of art is quite scary. There are so many ways to show art in a space that, with a little imagination, the display itself can become a creative piece in its own right. I won’t attempt to list them all, instead all I hope is that you’ll look at your home a little differently, and ideally break a few rules.
Let’s just take brief a look at the conventional method of hanging artwork…
The common technique used by museum, galleries and in a traditional home is to hang each piece so that the middle of the picture is 57″ from the floor – this represents the average height of the human eye.
It’s also a pretty given rule that when designing your interior, you must first position the furniture in your room, allowing art to be arranged in the space around it.
Ideally no less than 8″ should be left between the bottom of any piece and the top of an item of furniture.
Gaps between pictures should all be equal.
Live a Little
If you’re like me, then reading those rules may have already sent you to sleep. So let’s put them to one side.
Feeling particularly adventurous and creative? Great! You’ve taken the first step. So let gallery hanging rules stay in art galleries and curate your home how you want it!
Your home is a place to relax, feel comfortable, socialise, play, study… Not to display and observe in any formal context. Anything hung on the walls should facilitate the activities that you and your loved ones enjoy.
But don’t stop here, there’s a million fun and different ways you can display your art to add personality and enjoyment to your home. Don’t sit back – it’s time to do something different.
Place a piece somewhere you never normally would consider. Try it for even just seven days and see if you get any comments, and see if it catches your eye all the more for being there.
Where to Hang
Of all the walls in your home waiting for art, it may seem like the bathroom and kitchen are the easiest to neglect. After all, you don’t want your precious artwork to be damaged by cooking or moisture build-up.
But artwork can be a defining part of bathroom décor, helping a purely functional space feel warm and inviting. I can think of nothing better than letting my hair down in a bath filled with bubbles while exploring flowing strokes and colours of some of my favourite art to take away the stresses of the day. And those damage worries – just talk to your framer, they’ll be able to advise you on whether a piece is framed soundly enough to resist the day to day wear of being in a water-rich environment.
Displaying your Art
Consider the materials you use to hang artwork. Consider allowing the hanging technique itself to be visible – it’s a great way to add an element of consistency to several pieces. For example, consider using a thicker twine or thin rope to hang paintings (and yes, do think about the colour of that twine too).
Or, disregard hanging altogether by mounting artwork onto a shelf. To say ‘display’ rather than ‘hang’ art gives us so much more freedom.
If you have a large painting then you could try just simply leaning it up against a wall. Whilst this is probably the simplest thing in the world, that’s really the point – it can create a more casual or relaxed feel that is harmonious to a room – remember that your house needn’t be formally structured!
Consider assembling a collection of art and personal photos or treasured objects to display. Does a grouping of art and photos make a greater statement than just one piece? Some of the most interesting items on my walls are actually small found items, which form collections and add value to bigger works that I’ve purchased.
Hide a piece of art, see who spots it. Place a small painting on a big blank wall. Allow a big painting to fit an entire wall. Let colours clash against each other. Whatever you choose to do, be different, be unique – just don’t conform to standards set by anyone except yourself.